Local police have been under scrunity for catastrophic delay
Police with rifles and and at least one ballistic shield arrived to the scene of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, minutes after the gunman, but waited more than an hour in a nearby hallway before engaging him, new documents and video footage reveals.
The footage shows officers becoming impatient, hearing gunshots inside as they deliberated over whether to go after Salvador Ramos, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Ramos, who was killed during the eventual police raid, entered Robb Elementary School at 11:33am, according to the evidence, the most detailed look yet at the flawed law enforcement response to the shooting.
Nineteen minutes later, the first of multiple officers with ballistics shields joined police massed near the classroom where the 18-year-old gunman had barricaded himself.
“If there’s kids in there, we need to go in there,” one officer can be heard saying, according to the new information, which is part of an investigation by state authorities into what went wrong at Uvalde.
Another responded, “Whoever is in charge will determine that.”
That order to engage didn’t come until nearly an hour and a half after Ramos arrived on campus and shot 19 students and two teachers.
The new trove of information, which is expected to be presented to legislators during a Tuesday hearing in the Texas Senate, also captures the role of Pete Arredondo, the chief of the school district’s police force, in the unfolding chaos of the 24 May shooting.
Seven minutes after Ramos entered the building, Chief Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department on a landline to alert them about the shooting.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said.
“We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot . . . They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have fire power right now,” he said. “It’s all pistols.”
He also asks them to bring him a radio, because he doesn’t have one, according to the Statesman.
Nearly an hour after Ramos entered the school, Mr Arredondo can be heard wondering whether officers should “breach those windows and shoot his (expletive) head off.”
Officers, assisted by a specially trained Border Patrol unit which arrived on the scene to help, would not charge the classroom and shoot Ramos until 12:50pm.
The Independent has contacted the Uvalde police department for comment.
The new revelations about the police response to the shooting, the second worst school massacre in US history, are the latest in a string of strang and puzzling details.
Last week, VICE News reported that the city of Uvalde had hired a private law firm to fight public records requests from journalists asking to see body camera footage of the shooting.
Sources close to the investigation into the shooting have also said police never tried to open the doors to the classroom where Ramos was hiding, despite previously claiming they initially couldn’t get in because the doors were locked and they had to wait for a key to arrive.
Meanwhile, outside the school, enough time elapsed that crowds of parents stood, begging officers to go in and confront the shooter.
Some even took matters in their own hands.
Farm workers Angeli Gómez ran into the school and rescued her children, despite being handcuffed at one point by law enforcement.
Another man, a US Border Patrol officer, borrowed his barber’s gun and joined officers responding to the scene.